By Martha Hewett @martha_hewett
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Videographer / director: Per Lind
Producer: Martha Hewett, Ruby Coote
Editor: Marcus Cooper
Richie began modifying his face to look like a clown over 10 years ago, when he first moved to Hollywood working as a barber.
Since then, Richie, who goes by the name ‘Richie the Barber’, has had silicone implants, a split tongue and numerous facial tattoos including a nose tipped in red, blue eyelids and a Cheshire cat grin.
Despite his look terrifying some people, the 33-year-old doesn’t regret his decisions.
He told Barcroft TV: “I love being a clown, I’m a clown for life. It’s what I love and what I do.
“If someone doesn’t accept me, they don’t accept me. But my friends and family love and support me,” he said.
Aside from clowning around, Richie’s other passion is cutting hair, and when he’s not cruising the streets of LA on his unicycle, he is working in his barber shop on Sunset Boulevard.
“What I like about being a barber is meeting new people and hearing their different experiences.
“It’s okay to laugh here, it’s okay to cry, do whatever you want here and have fun,” he said.
For Richie, seeing the client entertained and smiling is as much of a priority as the haircut.
A visit to his barber shop usually involves Richie honking his horn, playing around with a giant yellow comb and covering the customer in rainbow confetti.
“Sometimes I clown around too far and people tell me to hurry up.
“I tend to take my time, I can’t cut and chat at the same time,” he added.
Richie’s connection to clowns began when he was a young boy, after his grandfather took him to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
“I met a clown backstage and I was fascinated by him,” he said.
“I saw happiness in him – he was joyful and goofy. A lot of people are serious, why don’t we laugh and smile and be who we want to be.
“That’s what I saw in the clown.”
However, Richie admits the clowning process wasn’t all fun and laughter.
“The tattoos around my eyes and nose were the most painful, especially when you sneeze.
“The forehead and eyebrows too – pretty much everything on the face is really painful,” he explained.
Luckily for Richie, his umbrella tattoos beneath his eyes are there to ‘catch the tears when times are tough.’
And being a clown does have its share of tough times, particularly in regards to romantic relationships.
“I’ve had many girlfriends leave me because of my tattoos, but that won’t stop me from doing what I want to do. I live my life the way I want to.”
He added: “I’m no Brad Pritt, not all women like clowns but what they do like is good personality.”
For Richie, the one relationship where being a clown doesn’t matter is with his 13-year-old daughter.
“We don’t talk about it, I’m her dad and it’s either black or white – she will either be embarrassed or she’ll say, ‘that’s my dad and I love him’ – we’re cool.
“I want to give her the knowledge that it’s okay to smile, it’s okay to be friendly whilst being cautious – that’s what she gets when she comes into my world.
One of the most important things for Richie is for people to understand that his look isn’t just about appearance.
“I am a clown for a life, I don’t just look like a clown, I am a clown – I ride a unicycle, I juggle, I do magic tricks – it’s a whole lifestyle, a whole world I’ve created.”
Although Richie wants to spread happiness, he isn’t naïve in knowing that his look can be a little terrifying for some people.
“I don’t want to scare them, I’m not that kind of clown. I just try to size up the situation and their reactions,” he said.
“My message to people is that it’s okay to smile, it’s okay to laugh and it’s okay to bring out the inner child in you. Bring out the love and light, that’s the main thing.”